As we head to the track this morning to witness the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500, i have to ask myself “Has it really been fifty years since I went to my first Indianapolis 500?”. OK, it’ll really be fifty years next week since the 1965 race took place as that race was run on Monday May 31st. But do the math. My first race was the 49th edition and this is the 99th.
At the track this weekend is the winning car from my first race, the Lotus powered by Ford driven by the great Jim Clark. It has become one of the most iconic cars in “500” history. It was the first rear-engine car to ever win. Once it won, no front-engine car won again. Not only was it historic, it was downright beautiful. When I saw it yesterday, I felt like I was reuniting with an old friend. A car I first saw fifty years ago, when I was a six year-old.
Clark and his Lotus were not the only stars of the 1965 race. The rookie class consisted of Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Gordon Johncock, Joe Leonard, Micky Rupp, Bobby Johns, George Snider, Arnie Knepper, Billy Foster, Masten Gregory and Jerry Grant. There were seven future “500” wins in that group and practcially every one was an exceptional driver. AJ Foyt sat on pole that day and Parnelli Jones finished second.
So the memories are overflowing this morning. The Lotus will run this morning. Al Unser was honored yesterday at Legends Day. Mario Andretti was present, as well. AJ Foyt and Parnelli Jones will be in attendance today.
And so will I. We are all fifty years older than we were on that bright sunny day in 1965. There has been lots of water run under the bridge since. But one thing has not changed. The Indianapolis 500 will run today and that is something very special to all of us.
I’ll post before and after the race today, so please check back often today. You may also follow us on Twitter at @Oilpressureblog and @MrsOilpressure. Please, check back later.